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You know how we do it
<small>((continued from The Greats))</small>

Marcus woke at his usual 5:30. He had slept relatively well despite yesterday's activities and their still potentially deadly consequences. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he considered the new day and what was ahead.

He looked over at his wallet that started beeping in alarm, resisting the urge to use the Force to turn it off. It was not without some difficulty. That sense of power and control- the wrestling and constant domination- was addictive. But it went much deeper than that. When he held the power of the Force in him, every sense was heightened, the colors and sounds and sensations all suddenly possessing an infinitely wide range of variation; infinitesimal gradations were now perceivable. It was as if he were plugged into the multi-verse and was able to discern the particles themselves existing as waves of probable locations, the whole aggregate superposition, emanating out into space-time; his consciousness not collapsing them into reality, but instead sensing the infinite differentiation of them all at once. There were limitless gradations between one color and the next, between a touch on his hand and one only a micrometer away. He was aware of every subtle shift, every possible state that existed in every universe, in between those two places on his hand.

It was intoxicating and his mind luxuriated in it all- and it had been denied to him! A part of him seethed, that Ascendancy should deny him his birth right, what had been bestowed on him. Almost, almost, he seized the Force in defiance. A Sith did not ask permission for what was his.

Rage threatened to overwhelm him and so Marcus sat on the bed and did his meditations, calming himself, reasoning with himself. He was his own master. If he followed Ascendancy’s wishes, it was by his choice. It was for a reason. But what was that reason? He wasn’t sure that Ascendancy would know if he channeled, or had a method for telling if he was lying. The heightened senses might allow one to create a rudimentary lie-detector. Perhaps a few weaves would allow him to make a more advanced lie-detector. That would be interesting. Bah! There were so many things to study, so many avenues to pursue. Hiding his weaves, creating weaves attuned to specific people or use of the power, testing on Pyotr, even something spontaneous like this lie detection- even using more than one weave at once, now that he’d seen Vellas do it- all of that was denied him, until Ascendancy gave the word. It ate at him.

Why did he submit? Was he afraid? No. Fear had been burned out of him long ago, scorched in the fires of his childhood, of beatings and abuse and torment. That crucible had scoured it all away. He didn’t want to get hurt or die, of course. But that was not fear. If it was in his best interests, he’d risk torture and even death in pursuing what he wanted.

Last night had been a risk, but he had been willing to take it, and later willing to look Ascendancy in the eye and confess his actions and reasons why he did them. Ayn Rand came to him. “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
Bruce Lee: “There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”
He decided his destiny, what he did. No one else did, not even Ascendancy.

So why then? Because he believed as did Ascendancy. He believed in his methods, in his ideology, his imposition of order. He wanted to be a part of that. The vision of Darth Imperius filled his head. “To dare to dream of something that has never existed and to make it a reality; to conjure up your deepest fears and darkest hopes; to pursue a vision ruthlessly and without relent; to create the artifacts, ideology and organization of the empires of your mind: this is real black magic, the source of all true power.

Of course the Force and the Sith were all just made up fiction. And yet…there was truth in them. Words floated to him. “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”
The story’s basis, its sources came from a distillation of history, of ideas and beliefs, myths and legends of ancient powers. And he now had access to the truth that those stories only hinted at, only distantly reflected. And Ascendancy was achieving the reality. Now, 40 years later, Malik would join him, to help bring order to the chaos, discipline to the weak, stability to the sea of mankind.

This was why he submitted, this why he chose to follow Ascendancy’s commands. He believed in the man and in the work he did. And that he had a place in it, something to offer. It was the greatest power a person could have, to have people choose to willingly follow because they shared the vision, and not simply because of fear.

Malik breathed, at peace with himself and his decision. The time would come. Ascendancy would see. He had much in the way of power and genius to offer the man. And Ascendancy was no fool not to know it. Malik smiled. He’d see what a powerful ally he could be.

With that, Marcus stood up and got ready for the day, ready to seize the opportunities as they came. He went down and had breakfast and then made his way to the Consulate of Communications. In many ways, this- together with the Consulate of Propaganda- was the center of Ascendancy's power in the CCD, even more than the military. Projection of physical power, as devastating as that could be, had its limits, both in terms of cost of men and matériel. But the control of the emotions and thoughts of nations, Dominances and ethnic groups was much more subtle, powerful, and ultimately far reaching in the long run.

He was looking forward to see the challenges this day brought.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jul 10 2014, 04:18 PM.
Marcus entered the Consulate and made his way to his office. There was a meeting scheduled for 9am that morning, so after getting a cup of coffee and greeting a few co-workers, he made his way to the conference room. It was 8:50 but it looked like everyone was there. He had an idea of what it might be about- Ascendancy's speech was still fresh in everyone's mind- but he only knew a few of the people in the room.

He was wearing a cream wool suit with a brown purple streaked tie, lavender pocket square and dark purple leather shoes. As always, his purple Sigma pin was on his lapel. He sat down and pleasantly greeted the group. He recognized mousy Darya Korablina, with her sharp thin nose and even sharper tongue. She kept the Press Affairs division running smoothly. There were no leaks in her department. The free press- such that it was- was very controlled, both literally as well as what the Consulate allowed them to learn. For all her sharpness, she did her job well and Marcus respected her.

But next to her was a man he'd never seen before, a short Indian fellow in his 30s- a guess, but given that, other than himself, there was no one here under the age of 30, it seemed reasonable. Beyond that estimation, Marcus didn't know. He'd not been around many Indians before and their age markers will unknown to him. He understood that. He knew white people who had trouble guessing the ages of black people for similar reasons. He introduced himself and found the man was Javas Sandhu. "I oversee the Religious Dialog department of Press Affairs.”
Ahh, of course. Yes, this was definitely in response to Ascendancy's speech. It was time to bring the 5th Dominance into the 21 century.

It was amazing to him that a person's religious world view could hold so much power over them, could move them to make the most painful of sacrifices or commit the most savage acts of violence. He understood, of course, the human need to feel connected, to be known and understood. The need to bind together with others- whether as part of small groups or massive organizations, religious or otherwise- was part of the web of the human experience. It hardly mattered that the beliefs themselves were ridiculous in the extreme. That cognitive dissonance between fact and belief was not the important thing. For whatever reason, humans possessed a craving to belong to something larger than their puny existence; they craved meaning in their lives. Give a person all the money and material possessions in the world- their physical needs being completely met- and they could still be unhappy. A lion or a shark did not try to find meaning. No creatures did except for humanity.

Such a powerful tool. And now we are finally leveraging it to deal with the cancer in the DV. That need to bind was strong. Stories and even music itself played major roles in that binding of people into large communities. It was the evolutionary reason for their development, as sociologists had discovered.

That, of course, led him straight to Anatoly Yushakov. Once could hardly miss him in his flamboyant dress and the charm which he oozed. His suit contained lighted dark blue strips along the edges of his onyx suit, cobalt shirt and vivid thick pink tie with a pearl stud under the knot, platinum glasses, dark hair spiked up. The man was a fixture at movie premiers, club openings, and parties of the elites. The man embodied the department he oversaw: Media Affairs. He had his hands in everything. He was a music producer, among his triumphs being the career of electronic punk band Pushkin's Bear and of new pop darling Onyx. Marcus wasn't much into music, but he couldn't deny the man's influence. He also oversaw movies, TV, and even fashion. People didn't realize how much of their beliefs and opinions were shaped by pop-culture. It made Malik laugh. The one thing that people gave the largest percentage of their time to following and consuming? Of course it was going to shape the way they viewed the world. And it was dismissed as frivolity. People just had no clue.

An exotic looking woman sat next to Anatoly. She had features he would say were African,- wider nose, kinky hair, darker heavy eyebrows- and yet there was something very white about her- her skin and those bright blue eyes, her blonde streaked hair. She was elegantly dressed in a form fitting navy blue capped sleeve dress, belted at the waist with a pleated ruffle accent at the waist. He could not look away. It usually wasn't his way to respond to woman like this. It was a puzzle to him, more than anything else. She introduced herself as Elouera Galloway, her accent naming her as being from Australia. Ahh, so she's Aboriginal. That explained it. And she was also part of the Religious Dialog department. He was curious.

“So you are also part of Religious Dialog...but are not part of Press Affairs?”

She gave him a wide smile and a playful voice came out. “Yes. Anatoly thought that it was important that our Media desk also help to bring religion into the 21st century. Half the world's population is under 30. Pop-culture is their life. Shouldn't it reflect their beliefs?”
Her blue eyes sharpened. She was no fool. “Shouldn't it also help make religion be something that unites and uplifts people, rather than something the makes someone decided to perform an honor killing?”
He was intrigued. Very very interesting. “So I help facilitate understanding and dialog among young people in regard to religion and their music and social media- their entertainment in general.”

He couldn't help himself. The tools Ascendancy had at his disposal were amazing. He was excited to see this massive operation in action, to actually participate in it. This was what power was for, the shaping of minds. And now, the DV was squarely it's sights. “Fascinating. I would really like to speak to you more about this. Maybe afterward we could talk.”

There were others at the table, but before he had to time to make their acquaintance, Dr. Bykov stood. “Alright everyone. Let's begin.”
His eyes swept the table, bringing everyone to silence. Marcus admired the control he had over the group. He watched attentively. “As you know, last night Ascendancy threw his annual Christmas dinner at the Kremlin. Many of you were there. For those that weren't or for those that didn't get a chance to hear or read his speech, among the topics discussed were the revolts in the DV. Now, you and I know how accurate the public news can be.”
A few chuckles were heard. “But the truth is, the situation in the DV is not good. Chaos reigns. CCD forces will soon be entering to bring things to order. But Ascendancy has tasked us with a new operation. For too long, DV has lived in the past, reliving old rivalries and injuries. Father and grandfathers regale their sons and grandsons with tales of past heroics, of indignities and slights, of their birthright and jihad.”
He paused, letting it sink in. “NO MORE! The fertile ground the revolt grew out of must be salted over.!The culture of death and envy and entitlement must be eliminated. It is an honor that Ascendancy has placed this task in our hands. We possess the tools and experience to alter the shape of the DV forever. Never again will there be a worry over revolt there when we are done.”
He paused, letting it sink in. “To that effect, I have assembled this team. Some of you know each other. And we have a few new faces for this task.”
He nodded to two people- a dark man and an attractive woman with piercing green eyes, thick scarf woven around her neck and pulled up to the back of her hair, almost in the manner of a hajib...and yet not. “Together, I have no doubt that we will succeed. There is no question of failure.”

His eyes went around the room, gathering assent as if it was foregone. Marcus too nodded. He was here for order. He believed in it. And he was happy. Even without the Force, he was happy.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Sep 3 2014, 12:18 PM.
Bykov looked at the two unknown persons sitting at the table. “I'd like to introduce two people who will be instrumental in helping reshape the culture of DV. First of all,”
- the dark man stood. He was rotund with refined Arabic features.- “Dr. Yoruc Asena, Professor of History at the Lomonosov Moscow University. His area of focus is the Ottoman Empire, which reigned as de facto leader of the Islamic world from the 15th to 19th centuries. After consultation with Dr. Asena, I have decided it is that specific era and cultural climate which will form the bedrock for our new DV.”
Everyone looked at Asena. This was ambitious. They were nation building, but in a very comprehensive manner. This was far more than government restructuring and economic programs married with military enforcement- all of which was very important. They were embarking on a project to change the way people thought. It was at once more subtle and much more far reaching. But it could be done.

“The other person with us Dr. Yasmina Qadir, a member of the Progressive School of Islam and an expert in gender studies in the Quran and in Islamic culture. Ladies and Gentlemen, the motivators for change must come from within the culture of the DV. Mothers and grandmothers are tired of seeing the suffering and deaths of their children and husbands, of fathers and brothers and uncles. There has been an increasingly vocal feminist movement among the Islamic nations for decades. We think it is time to unite those voices and use them as an instrument of change.”

Marcus looked at Dr. Qadir. Now her clothing made sense. She walked that line. Cultural pride and refusing to be seen only as a sexual object. But also refusing to cover her head to accept a subservient role. Her sharp gold eyes held years of suffering and fighting a deeply ingrained cultural patriarchy that had dominated Islam for so many years. It could not have been easy for her to hear them so casually talk about changing her society at such a fundamental level, no matter how terrible some of the injustices were. Then again, honor killings, the illegal but still prevalent practice of child brides, female genital mutilation, sexual slavery, and the glacial advancement of even the most basic of women's rights could force someone to seek out any ally they could find.

As if reading his thoughts, Bykov went on. “I want to make this as clear as possible. Ascendancy has no wish to obliterate the unique beauty and culture that we might refer to as Islamic. He has no interest in creating a carbon copy of Moscow or Paris or any other city or Dominance. This is NOT a culture war! But what must end is the chaos that thrives in the current culture where martyrs are worshiped, where any change is viewed as from the Devil. What must end is the sense of oppression and paranoia, and the resentment of more prosperous lands.”

Bykov stopped and looked at Dr. Qadir and Dr.Asena. He nodded to them. For them to be a part of this, they had to believe it was in the best interests of their people. His voice became lyrical, his cadence rhythmic. “The people of DV will learn to view themselves as part of a tradition that goes back centuries, that it is their true heritage, their birthright. It is the true gift of Islam to the world. It is the culture of the Turkish Sultans presiding over a thriving empire; of Saladin at Jerusalem treating the Crusading invaders with honor; of al-Mansur translating the vast amounts of world literature into Arabic, preserving them through the dark ages; of al-Kwarizmi and his gifts of the Hindu numeral system that all the world uses today, of al-jabr, algorithm, zenith and zero, of astronomy and geography”
His voice rose. “It is a culture that is rich in history and philosophy, of poetry, art and music, of tolerance and understanding.”
His voice became angry, indignant.And it was stolen from them! Hijacked by the Wahhabist School of Islam, which has presented itself to the world as the face of Islam for the last hundred years and more.”
His voice became hard. “We will restore to the DV their rightful place in the world. We will give them back the history of themselves.”
He looked at each of them. “Each of you has a role to play in this. Everyone. This will be a difficult work. But I have the utmost confidence in you. We will succeed. The DV will thrive once again.”

It was difficult not to get swept along. Bykov did not use Force tricks or seem to use subtle voice manipulation. He spoke facts and he spoke them passionately. He had a knack for rhythm, certainly, as well as an ability to lead his listeners along with alliteration and rhetoric. But there seemed nothing phony about it. Marcus found himself very much interested in participating in the project, in adding what he could. Order. It was all about order.

Bykov then got down to details. Beginning with Press Affairs, he began outlining their strategy. Each department would play a contributing role. Even something as frivolous seeming as pop culture would play a huge role. People spent the majority of their time immersed in it, nearly from infancy. That tool would be consciously leveraged in a specific direction. Constructing a new cultural psyche that viewed itself as the heirs of the Ottoman Sultanate would require new heroes. Movies would lionize these cultural icons and events from the past, emphasizing their honor and courage and wisdom. Television would portray modern families dealing with modern life, dramas and comedies to break down prejudices and barriers, though deeply rooted in the bedrock of their faith. Documentaries and educational programs would reintroduce the history and world view that had been lost. Music would reflect this new-found optimism and historical pride, while at the same time reflecting the honest feelings of the listeners.

Then too, would there need to be a large number of DV celebrities and role models to be set up, people the youth could look up to and aspire to be. Reality based TV would give people laughter and optimism, a feeling they were part of and sharing with the global community. Elouera Galloway would spearhead special events designed to give the Islamic youth a voice in their entertainment, a sense that they were being respected, as well as expose them to alternative views, finally blunting the sharp edge of extremism. Debates would be held in many venues, large and small, pitting the relatively infantile- both in terms of age as well as attitude- Wahhabist School against a progressive Islam based on centuries of established history. The Quran would be discussed, no longer allowed to be the appropriated as the clothing with which patriarchy and oppression clothed itself. Dr. Qadir would spearhead outreach groups to unite the Islamic feminist movement, to give them a voice and sense of solidarity, to stigmatize the culture of death that had existed for so long.

And with all that, along with economic programs and a rebuilt infrastructure carried out by other Consulates, there would be a flooding of wallets and other media devices to the point that they were ubiquitous. The people of the dominance would find this new culture everywhere, new things and people to be excited about, new ideas and perspectives to talk about and debate. It was an all out cultural reclamation. Of course, the military would be present, ready to put down riots or to protect the various actors on the stage. They did not expect this to happen over night or without the current leaders fighting back.

But it would happen. Gradually, over decades, the DV would be remade. Men like Hasan would never find a fertile soil in which to sow their seed again. Marcus was reminded of the McWorld theory he had learned about in school. The idea went that no two countries that had a McDonalds had ever gone to war. It was sort of a joke observation, except that it spoke of a deeper truth. For a nation to get to a point to have a McDonalds, its culture and they way it viewed itself and consumed food had to get to a certain point. So two nations that got to that point were not in the habit of resorting to violence or war when there was a difficulty. What they were trying to do, he thought wryley, was McWorld the DV. And from what he saw, it would work. He believed it would.

It was nearing the end of the day. It had been productive and everyone was excited with the direction things were going. There were a myriad of things to do, but they hammered out a basic outline of their strategy. Marcus stood, taking his jacket from his chair. He looked around the room and nodded his head. This was going to be very interesting. His mind drifted to what he should do for the evening. Without his Force studies, he suddenly had more time. He had to hit the gym. But after that, he wasn't sure.

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Jul 14 2014, 04:52 PM.
He shrugged into his coat, watching as everyone either gathered their things up or stayed to chat with this person or that. His eyes lighted on Elouera Galloway, now standing in her navy blue dress. She definitely grabbed eyes, though not in an inappropriate slutty display. She just was very attractive in all the ways men found pleasing. She is intriguing. He walked over to her.

"Ms. Galloway, I have to tell you that I really enjoyed your thoughts on the strategy in the DV."
For once, he didn't feel calculated saying it. He really had felt that way. "Would you be available to talk this evening? I'd like to hear more about....well, about all of this. It's my first time seeing something like this done."

She smiled at him, blue eyes twinkling and kindly offered, "Thank you Marcus. I appreciate that. I have to say that I was impressed by your comments too. I look forward to more of it. But"
, in mocking hushed tones she said, "It's my first time too. I mean, I've worked with Anatoly for a few years and I have participated in limited narrowly focused operations. But I don't know that we've ever down something like this before."
Her smile was reassuring and she touched his arm. "I dare say you're in good company."
She gestured to encompass the room. "I'm guessing most of us feel that way."
But then she turned back to him. "Yes, we can get together. Maybe later tonight."
For some reason he felt a slight warmth in his stomach at her answer. "I have to stay and talk with Anatoly and Javas. But maybe in an hour or two. We can get something to eat."

Marcus found himself mildly smiling and was surprised by it. Well, he did have his experience, after all. It's not as if he hadn't learned how to be charming and pleasant with people. And she was interesting. "I look forward to it."
He pulled out his Wallet and put it in contact mode. "Here is my contact information."
She responded in kind and the two devices instantly swapped their data.

she said looking at her phone to check that it worked. "So let me message you later to see where you are."

He smiled at her. This could be interesting. "Great. I look forward to it."
He offered her his hand and then, saying good-bye, he walked out the conference room and started home. As he did, he thought about everything. It was odd, to say the least, how he was feeling. He laughed at himself. These last few months had been fairly... solitary, aside from some calculated association with his workmates. And he had spent more and more time by himself in his room, practicing his Force weaves and doing his meditations and studies.

In truth, he had been becoming a hermit. Even at home those last few years, Andre and the Smith family had kept him minimally engaged. But here, he had been all alone. He had immersed himself in the role he'd created for himself. But now he could see the danger. If he wasn't careful, he'd start to get a reputation as a one dimensional person, someone who only lived for his work. That wouldn't help him at all. He needed to have a life outside of the Kremlin, even outside of his goals. If for no other reason than it would make his ultimate aims more attainable.

And he was Sith in his philosophy. Sith enjoyed the gamut of human experience- the totality of emotion. It was time for him to start doing that to. He was at the Kremlin, the seat of power in the world. He'd met Ascendancy, perhaps even had achieved one of his goals with the man, at least partly. And for the first time in 2 years, the Force was denied him. It was time to allow himself some breathing room. And it would begin tonight with Elouera.

<small>[[continued in Good Life]]</small>

Edited by Marcus DuBois, Sep 13 2014, 02:28 PM.

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